Life Decisions

Whyyyyy is life so hard?!

Read that in the whiniest voice imaginable,  and that’s basically been me for the last week.

Let me give you a little back story:

So,  I applied for an office job I saw on (along with a slew of other jobs) that requested a native English speaker for a job handling paperwork and phone calls that are all coming in in English. 

Well,  I got an interview!

Then I got an offer!!

But it’s not as easy as that.  There’s a lot of pros and cons to this job,  which is making it really hard to decide to take it or not.  I’m already dragging my butt producing the necessary documents for a work visa so I can get some advice from other expats here, and other people familiar with this place.

First off,  let me clarify again that I am living with my in laws and we (hubby and I) have no income.  Due to the drama in our lives,  it’s possible hubby won’t be able to work for a few months or even more than a year.  So… Yah.  Pressure. Even though no one is asking me to work or provide for us, I put it on myself.

Let me lay out why this decision is so hard. Let’s start with the cons. I mean,  there are more pros than cons,  but the cons are pretty big.


1. Commuting
Always a big issue with jobs in large cities… The commute and the cost thereof.  This job is minimum 1hr away,  and the commute is completely by metro (subway style, but above ground.  What else do you call that?).  From my door to the metro is 5 minutes,  and from the metro to the office door is 5 minutes,  but the rest is in a slam packed cabin.  Standing room only (plus a change in trains at one stop).  The cost comes to 100tl per month, not to mention having to get up extra early and come home kind of late.

2. The pay
While the pay isnt terrible, it’s not great.  Gone are the dreams of making big money based on being american/native English speaker.  Yes,  as a private school teacher you can make a nice profit, but these jobs are neither long term nor terribly legitimate (I. E. The working conditions can be bad,  some legal corners can be cut, and other things that are a smidgen sketchy). And I think you recall the hijab problem I blogged about before. But anyway,  the job pays 2.5k a month,  which is not bad but also not as much as someone like me could potentially make.  That’s where things get confusing, because a lot of our expectations are based on rumors and stories, not directly from the horses mouth,  so to speak. While half of this camp says that is a severe devaluing of my abilities, others say I should jump on it because it’s the upper bracket for such positions.

3. Taxes
I have to pay taxes on income to the US ;( boo.

4. Locked Contract
With the work contract, I’ll be locked in for a year. If any better opportunities come along, I’ll be out of luck until the contract expires.


1. Getting out of the house
A stupid pro according to my husband, but an important one to me. I need to get out of this house! I need to be productive! I need to have something else to do than stare at a blank wall and work as a maid all day! Even my mother in law agrees with this.

2. Good working conditions (or so it appears?)
One of the big red flags I’ve been hearing from other expats is the big discrepancy between US and Turkish working conditions. Since I haven’t had any experiences myself, I’ll let you Google some horror stories (or tell yours in the comments!). But anyway, as far as this office goes… Everyone speaks English (well, but not fluent), the hours are fair with a little leeway for tardiness (9am to 5.30p, but if you are 10 or 15 min late it’s ok because my commute is long), no weekends EVER, clean and modern working space. Oh, and a coffee machine.

3. The pay
While I said the pay isn’t great, it’s also not bad. In any case, it’s a hell of a lot more than 0tl a month, or even worse, spending from our savings (which we’ve been doing since we got here).

4. Additional opportunities
This position gives me the chance to travel internationally on the company’s dime. Plus I’ll be in contact with people that often request private English tutoring (for which I am able to provide with pure profit to me). Oh, and from what I’ve been told, I can take a Turkish course through the company for free for one hour during work hours.

5. Insurance
They pay my insurance (and I think hubby gets added under me as well), which means no more monthly fee for us!

6. Financial freedom, Socialization, and independence
Both scary and exciting… If I have a Monday through Friday job, that means I’ll have to go out into this country alone. Travel by myself. Actually be part of this country. That’s both terrifying and exhilarating. At some point I need to stop being a tourist and start being a citizen (which I’ll be applying for in May İnşallah). Going hand in hand with that, I will need to get a phone, be social with my coworkers, and make some friends (İnşallah. At the very least be a pleasant coworker). Actually, you know, live a normal life for once.

So this is where I’m at. Do you see the conundrum here? While I would be perfectly happy to take a job much closer to home… One in the hand is worth two in the bush, am I right? Personally, I’m leaning towards taking it… But my worrying husband is less excited. I’m waiting on a bit of information from a friend to help seal the deal.

What do you think I should do?


9 thoughts on “Life Decisions

  1. So, hypothetically you won’t always live with your inl-aws, and you could move closer to your work, yes? That would reduce the commute, but still give you the benefits of the position?

    I think it sounds awesome, PARTICULARLY the international travel part and the private tutoring part. DO IT!


    1. In theory, yes… But with that salary it would be breaking even every month to make bills and rent :/. Hubby doesn’t support moving out until we are financially stable (which will likely be never at this rate)

  2. you have to file but that doesnt nec mean youll have to pay taxes to the US on your earnings bc you’ll be paid so low…honestly, keep looking for something that is closer to home. long and stressful commute on a daily basis is killer…unless you really need that (insulting!) salary.

    1. We’ve been eating our savings for the last 7mo and I’m starting to stress about it :/. Even today we had to fork over more cash for house care. Do you have any advice for what kind of jobs a hijabi in izmir should look for that would pay more? Another job I was offered paid the same but was even harder to get to 😦

  3. As the previous person said, you will need to file taxes but not actually pay money on your full-time salary since it’s under the threshold. A couple ideas, you can always supplement your full-time salary with freelance work (that’s what I do but that gets tricky because then you do have to pay taxes on self employed income). Also, I can say that the commute would be a huge issue for me personally but it’s actually a pretty standard commute for Istanbul (not sure about the standard in Izmir) and since the hours seem really good, it might not be all that bad. You could always take this job until you find something that is more suitable. However, I would be concerned about the 1 yr contract. Try to find out what actually happens if you break the contract before 1 yr. It happens a lot in the education sector here, and I think some institutions take it more seriously than others (i.e. try to figure out if there are actually any repercussions…) Also, any luck with negotiating the salary?

    1. Besides talking to a general office person with 0 authority to make any changes, I haven’t been able to speak to anyone about negotiating my contract. I’m trying to get more information on this sector so I’m better prepared :). The contract seems to say (I’m trusting my husband because it is turkish) that an advanced notice is all that is needed. I actually emailed a list of questions to the human resources people about the contract so I can fully understand it.

  4. Hi, I’ve been reading your blog for a while. I work here as a teacher (in Istanbul) and do have a legitimate job that pays three times what your offer does, for far fewer working hours. A long commute is a deal breaker for me. I also know many teachers who wear a headscarf, perhaps it’s different in Izmir.

    I mean maybe you could do this new job for a while and make some contacts and see how it goes. Good luck deciding.

    1. Thanks for your input Katyhoca! For sure there are legitimate teaching jobs out there, but I feel like they are a little trickier to find :/. Unless you are fortunate enough to find the right one first without sifting through the mess!

      Izmir is a little different. Many fancy themselves liberal and educated, but are in fact the very opposite. I find that when I am around people who are actually educated, and actually open minded, there are no problems! I was thinking this job could transition into teaching, or at least help me form a network in the education sector so that I could move up in time.

      *oh, and thanks for reading :)!

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